Carbon or Light Farming Explained

What's it about?

Our Planet is in Trouble

For millions of years before, during and after the Age of Dinasaurs, our Earth steadily locked away much of the Carbon that had previously made the Earth too hot for life. The Carbon was locked up in huge fossilised death chambers. Just a few hundred years ago men discovered that this stored Carbon also contained stored energy. Men discovered that by burning this material, the total energy available to man could be increased. The amount of energy available to man was previously capped by the limits of Photosynthesis. Those who controlled the photosynthesis surface ( the land ), or its stores ( the forests ), controlled its energy supplies and wielded total power. This was the age of medieval Fiefdom and the Landlordism that succeeded it. When man found that by liberating the fossilised energy, an explosion of production could be released, the importance of land and forests was sidelined. Each succeeding generation has since multiplied its use of fossil energy exponentially while simultaneously reducing the area of land for photosynthesis and depleting the forest stores.

A by-product of the burning of coal, oil and natural gas is the release of the Carbon that was previously locked away. Much of the fossil Carbon is now back in the atmosphere as increased CO2 and Methane. The percentage of atmospheric CO2 has increased by over 30% in my lifetime alone and is accelerating. This is naturally making the Earth warmer again and is melting Polar Ice and will raise sea levels much quicker than we think. Since most of us humans live at or close to current sea levels, the consequences are clearly not good.

But the land and forests can come off the sideline and play a heroes part in heading off or deferring this eventuality. Our soil and trees have the capacity to lock away some of that Carbon again. All that is required is that we raise soil Carbon and forest building to equal status with food production. Not an easy task but nevertheless doable. The challenge is that every farmer and gardener and public land manager must increase the amount of Carbon they lock away.

Two simple techniques are involved.

1. Increase the levels of photosynthesis per Ha and Carbon stored per Ha by utilising the height of woody plants and trees. This involves planting new forests and integrating more trees into our farmland through Agroforestry (see separate page)

2. Increase the Carbon content of our soils. Carbon is a major part of Humus and Organic Matter, both of which are components of soil fertility and soil health. Building our soil Carbon is therefore a win win strategy. To sequester Carbon in our soil, we avoid ploughing and soil disturbance because it causes carbon in soil organic matter SOM to be oxidised and thus lost to atmosphere. In addition we use our cattle herd to build organic matter by applying the principles of Holistic Grazing Management.

At Nicharee Farm we are applying both of these strategies and we believe strongly that this will increase the health of our place and planet. We believe the saying that "your health is your wealth" applies as much to our land and planet as it does to individuals.